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Perjury, graft charges eyed vs Calida, NTC over ABS-CBN shutdown

/ 01:21 PM May 08, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker wants the House of Representatives to look into possible graft and perjury charges against the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) over the shutdown of media giant ABS-CBN.

Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor, who serves as vice chairperson of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said aside from these charges, the NTC and Solicitor General Jose Calida may also face raps for violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

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“The power of Congress to legislate is complete, full, and plenary, and a legislative franchise is a law and by deciding whether to grant or deny a franchise, it is passing a law and making policy,” read Defensor’s resolution filed Friday.

“Verily, the orchestrated conduct of the NTC Commissioners and its Officers and the Solicitor General directly subverts the plenary authority of the House of Representatives and, by maliciously breaking the NTC’s commitment made under oath, constitutes the criminal acts of perjury and violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” it added.

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To recall, on March 10, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told members of the House that they will follow the advice of the Department of Justice (DOJ), allowing ABS-CBN to operate while its franchise renewal bid is pending in Congress.

Despite this pronouncement, the NTC on May 5, one day after ABS-CBN’s franchise expired, issued a cease and desist order, directing the network to stop operating its television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide “absent a valid Congressional Franchise required by law.”

The cease and desist order came two days after Calida’s warning to the NTC.

Defensor questioned NTC’s backtracking on earlier pronouncement and likewise hit Calida’s letter “pressuring” the NTC warning them against issuing a provisional authority to ABS-CBN.

“Nag-file po ako ng isang resolusyon para pag-usapan kung sinumang committee sa Kongreso, kung saan man ia-assign ito na imbestigahan long nangyaring pagkakagulo sa prangkisa ng ABS-CBN,” Defensor said in an online press briefing.

“Partikular dito pag-aralan ang kaso na maaaring isampa sa NTC or the National Telecommunications Commission at tsaka yung Office of the Solicitor General,” the lawmaker added.

Defensor said that his resolution is not meant as “finger-pointing” nor is it an expression of support towards ABS-CBN.

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“Itong resolusyon na ito, hindi ito pagkampi sa ABS-CBN, higit sa lahat hindi ito pagtuturo. Ayaw naming magturuan sa gitan ng mga nangyayaring ito,” Defensor said.

“Ito’y paglilinaw lamang na mayroong nangyaring kamalian, may nangyaring anomalya doon sa proseso na isinasagawang hearing ng Kongreso,” he added.

Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, who chairs the House committee on legislative franchises, earlier said that NTC may be held for contempt after it “backtracked” on its earlier pronouncement that it will issue a provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN.

“Posible po. On record sila, under oath sila nung sinabi na sila ay magi-issue ng provisional authority kaya gusto nating malaman, anong nangyari at bakim sila biglang nagbacktrack?” Alvarez said in a radio interview when asked if NTC’s move order for ABS-CBN to stop its broadcast operations could serve as a basis for contempt.

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TAGS: ABS-CBN, ABS-CBN franchise, ABS-CBN shutdown, NTC, OSG
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